I read an article recently about a church that offered “door prizes” to visitors during their Easter service. Apparently, people were enticed to attend the service with the hopes of walking away with a brand new car, or maybe a new bicycle for their kids. The idea, according to the church’s pastor, was to provide “An opportunity to share Christ with people who may never go to a church for any reason.”
It really seems that the people of this church had only the best intentions at heart, but it does cause us to wonder if using such gimmicks is really a solid approach to spreading the Gospel. According to Pastor Cornelius (the Corpus Christi, TX church’s pastor):
“We hope[d] to show people that while it is exciting to receive free stuff here on Earth, the greatest free gift of all time is something we haven’t yet seen, but can enjoy for all eternity.” (1)
Sounds good to me, but it did bring to my mind something that the Lord Jesus told some of the multitude of more than 5,000 whom He had fed with the five barley loaves and two fish:
“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:26-27)
According to John 6:22-25, it seems that these people searched diligently to find the Lord Jesus after He had left the place of the feeding. They made their way into ships and crossed the Sea of Galilee, following Him to Capernaum, and for what? Because they had been “filled.” They weren’t seeking Jesus as their Savior, they weren’t following Him because He was the Son of God; they went after Him because He had given them something to eat. Now, most of us today cannot truly understand the importance of having food enough to eat in a day when food was scarce. Few things can seem more urgent than sustenance to a man who has spent all of his life without enough to eat. But the Lord showed them that He came to bring them so much more than just food for their bodies.
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
The Lord Jesus did not simply come to offer food for the body, but to offer Himself as “Food” for the soul. His primary purpose was not to bring bread to give life, He is the Bread of life! Many of those who were present when the Lord fed the multitudes failed to understand that the real Gift of God wasn’t the bread and the fish in the hands of the Lord Jesus, but the One holding the food. They did not look beyond what was in the hands of our Lord to see the face of the One Who came to give Himself for them.
As members of the body of Christ, are we not guilty of shifting the emphasis from the Lord Jesus Himself to what is in His hands when we seek to entice a lost and dying world into our midst with offers of gifts and prizes? Are we not perhaps sending a false message to those who are unfamiliar with the Word of God, those whom Pastor Cornelius described as “never going to a church for any reason”, when we put the emphasis on material possessions? According to the article, the Corpus Christi church gave away prizes valued in excess of $2 million, extravagant gifts indeed, but things which can be bought with money, nevertheless. It is not the things which money can buy that distinguishes the Church from a social club or charitable organization, it is that which is not purchased and that which no amount of money can secure. That is what those who never go to a church for any reason really need, and it is that which those whom the Holy Spirit is drawing into the Church are really seeking.
But we should not be surprised that the carrots dangled before the faces of the unconverted are so often offerings of material increase rather than spiritual. For how many of us within the Body of Christ have never moved beyond seeking the things in the Lord’s hands to looking for the things in His heart? How often are we guilty of seeking Him diligently, not because He is the Bread of Life, but because He has at some time provided us bread for our life? May God forgive us for setting our eyes steadfastly on His hands and not His heart and for concerning ourselves with what God gives us rather than Who He has given. Only when we understand that God has provided a Meat that endureth unto everlasting life can we rest in knowing that it is sufficient for all who seek Him.
(1) For the article from the Christian Post about this event: Click Here)
(2) For the commentary article from “Fruit of The Word” where I first read about this: Click Here)